Produce Marketing Association (PMA), Newark, Del.

John Oxford, president and CEO of L&M Cos. Inc., was appointed chairman of the 2016-17 board. Oxford has been an active PMA volunteer for many years, including working on marketing, global strategy, membership restructure, strategic planning task forces and the Fresh Summit Committee in 2011. He was also the secretary and treasurer for both PMA and the Center for Growing Talent by PMA (CGTbyPMA). Jin Ju Wilder, director of marketing for LA & SF Specialty Produce, was elected chair-elect. At LA & SF Specialty Produce, Wilder is responsible for marketing strategy and activities, brand management and company communications for the wholesale produce, dairy, and specialty foods distributor serving California, Arizona and Nevada. She also leads the customer relationship management systems and data discovery and reporting solutions. She served two terms on the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, and was on the board of directors for the Fresh Produce & Floral Council. April Porter, chief financial officer of Noble Produce Imports Inc., was elected secretary-treasurer. In 2010, Porter pursued her dream to work for the family business (fresh citrus and blueberry agribusiness) after a career in corporate finance with Wendy’s Arby’s Group and investment banking with Houlihan Lokey. As CFO, she leads all finance, accounting and treasury functions, and coordinates budgeting and capital planning. She also works closely with strategic partners and evaluates new business ventures. Porter serves on PMA’s Budget and Finance Committee and has participated in CGTbyPMA’s Career Ambassador Program. Russ Mounce, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of produce and floral for Sam's Club, was named immediate past chair. Mounce maintains more than 18 years of experience in the produce industry. He joined Sam’s Club as an assistant buyer in the produce division in January 2000, and held numerous buying/sourcing roles within the produce and floral areas. In 2010, Mounce was promoted to his current position with responsibilities over merchandising for 632 U.S. Sam’s Clubs, including 11 clubs in Puerto Rico. He is also chair of the PMA Leadership Committee, and has served on PMA’s Membership Committee and the Strategic Planning and Governance Task Forces. Elliott Grant, chief executive officer of ShopWell Labs Inc., was elected vice chair. Grant founded YottaMark Inc. (also known as Infinity Coding Solutions Inc.), where he was responsible for all aspects of its marketing execution, product and solution definition, branding and user experience. Prior to YottaMark, Grant served as vice president, operations for Portola Packaging Inc., where he was responsible for high-speed, high-volume production lines across six U.S.-based factories. Grant is PMA’s Science & Technology Committee Chair, and has served on PMA’s Supply Chain Efficiencies Committee and the Strategic Planning and Membership Restructure Task Forces. Paul Kneeland, vice president of fresh merchandising for Fresh Formats LLC, a division of Ahold USA, was named vice chair. Kneeland is a veteran of the food business and retail since 1981. He forged his way from bagging groceries to holding leadership positions in three supermarket chains. Kneeland has chaired two regional produce shows with years of experience in strategic planning and operating. Kneeland also serves on PMA’s Fresh Summit Committee and has participated on the Dues Restructure Task Force and CGTbyPMA’s Career Ambassador Program. New at-large board directors are Jim Corby, vice president of merchandising, produce, floral and gift centers, The Fresh Market; Dwight Ferguson, president and CEO, Naturipe Farms LLC; Bernadette Hamel, vice president, national procurement, produce, Metro Richelieu Inc.; Andrew Kennedy, president, FoodLogiQ; David Marguleas, executive vice president of Sun World International LLC and president of Sun World Innovations; Jill Overdorf, director of business and culinary development and corporate executive chef, Coosemans L.A. Shipping Inc.; Kurt Vetter, president, Wonderful Sales; Gary Wishnatzki, president and CEO, Wish Farms; and Joe Don Zetzsche, director of floral and blooms, H-E-B. Retiring from the PMA board are Jeff Dunn, chief executive officer, Bolthouse Farms Inc.; Howard Nager, former vice president of marketing, Domex Superfresh Growers; Oleen Smethurst, assistant vice president, general merchandise manager, Costco Wholesale; Dan Sutton, vice president of produce procurement, Albertsons LLC; and Thomas Wheeler, director of produce operations, Mollie Stone Markets.

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), Madison, Wis.
Rachel Kerr joined as public relations manager, where she will support national public relations and social media campaigns. Kerr maintains nearly 10 years of experience in the public relations and social media industry, most recently as the senior assistant experiential marketing manager for Kraft Heinz Co. During her 7-year tenure at Kraft Heinz, Kerr worked on the Oscar Mayer brand, coordinating events, managing multiple social media accounts and launching an app for the Wienermobile.

International Dairy Federation (IDF), Belgium
Dr. Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, was elected president, taking over for Jeremy Hill, who was elected in 2012. In her new role, Bryans will steer the work of IDF with the support of the board, the Science Programme Coordination Committee (SPCC), the head office and IDF National Committees. She has been involved with IDF at all levels since 2005.
National Grocers Association (NGA), Arlington, Va.
David Ochs, senior vice president sales, East of KeHE Distributors, LLC, and Jeff Strack, president and CEO of Strack & Van Til, LLC, joined the board of directors. Ochs maintains more than 20 years’ experience in the food industry in operations, finance, human resources, growth and customer service.  Before joining KeHE, he was the vice president sales, higher education for Aramark Corp. With over 25 years of experience rooted in Strack & Van Til’s history, Strack started his career part-time as a bagger and worked in almost every department in the stores.  He has held several key leadership roles, including chief marketing officer and chief strategy officer, and contributed to the growth of the brands from 10 to 37 stores with almost 5,000 associates. Additionally, Mike Stigers, executive vice president and president, wholesale and supply chain services, SUPERVALU, was elected to serve on the Board of Directors Executive Committee. Stigers began his grocery career in 1974 as a part-time courtesy clerk at Safeway. During the next 14 years, he took on managerial positions of increasing responsibility before joining Jons Markets. During the 1990s, he expanded his scope of experience by working for retail technology companies. He joined PW Supermarkets in 1999 as director of operations. Stigers also served in executive roles in operations and merchandising and was promoted to senior vice president and chief operating officer in 2003. He subsequently became chief executive officer of the independent retailer. He has also worked on the vendor side of the grocery industry for BASS, Inc. and Sterilox Fresh as regional vice president. 



Ta-De Produce Distributing, Nogales, Ari.
Jesus Clark joined as program developer in the sales department. Clark, a former Loblaw’s business development manager and former USDA inspector, previously spent eight years with Loblaw Produce International in product, vendor and business development, working closely with growers and suppliers on annual crop programs.

Agropur Cooperative, Canada
After a 25-year career on the board of directors, including nearly 15 years as president, Serge Riendeau announced plans to retire, effective Feb. 8, 2017. During Riendeau's tenure as president (2002-2016), Agropur's annual sales surged from $1.8 billion to $6 billion, expanded into the United States and halted imports of diafiltered milk.

Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J.
Ed Carolan was appointed president – Campbell Fresh (C-Fresh), which includes fresh soup, Bolthouse Farms beverages, salad dressings and carrots and Garden Fresh Gourmet salsa, hummus and dips. Carolan will succeed Jeff Dunn, who is leaving to become chief executive officer of Juicero, Inc., but will remain involved in Acre Venture Partners, a Campbell Soup venture partner. Carolan joined Campbell in 2001, and has led several significant businesses and functions. Most recently, he served as president of Integrated Global Services (IGS), Campbell’s global shared services organization. In that role, Carolan created and implemented a business model designed to unlock value for the company, build new capabilities and deliver faster and more efficient services. Carolan was also president, U.S. retail, responsible for the U.S. soup, sauces and beverages business. He also led the U.S. soup and simple meals business, where he drove five consecutive quarters of growth in U.S. soup. Previously, he served as general manager – Pepperidge Farm snacks division, where he accelerated growth behind Goldfish crackers. From 2006-2009, he was general manager of Campbell’s StockPot fresh soup and North America foodservice businesses. Before joining Campbell, Carolan spent five years in brand management at Procter & Gamble. Meanwhile, Bethmara Kessler was promoted to senior vice president of IGS, succeeding Carolan. Kessler joined Campbell as vice president, corporate audit in 2014 from Warner Music Group, where she served as senior vice president, internal audit and co-chief compliance officer. Before that, she co-founded the Fraud and Risk Advisory Group, and served on the executive leadership team at Limited Brands. Both executive changes become effective Nov. 1.

Sanderson Farms, Inc., Laurel, Miss.
Charles "Tex" Ritter, Jr. announced his intent to retire from the board of directors. Ritter joined the board of directors in 1988, and is the longest serving board member. He previously served as president and director of the Attala Co. from 1967 until his retirement in 1992. Ritter retired as a director of First M&F Corp. and Merchants and Farmers Bank in 2011.

Mamma Chia, Carlsbad, Calif.
Ken Vargha was named executive vice president of sales and marketing. Prior to joining Mamma Chia, Vargha served as the senior vice president of sales and marketing for Renew Life. His extensive background spans across various industries from nutraceuticals and cosmetics to healthcare and non-profit. Vargha began his career with Proctor & Gamble working on the Pantene and Rogaine brands for before moving on to head marketing for the Invisalign brand. He has also served as vice president of sales and marketing for Pfizer, Inc./Alacer Corp. Lance Dermeik was appointed vice president of operations, responsible for overseeing strategic operations and supply chain processes. During the past eight years, he was the senior director of contract manufacturing at The Hain Celestial Group, where he worked with contract manufacturers to support Hain’s portfolio of natural and organic brands. Dermeik’s experience also includes eight years at Monster Beverage Corp., where he served as director of supply chain operations. Steve Polzin joined as director of sales. Polzin worked alongside Vargha at Renew Life and Alacer, where he increased sales and expanded distribution, most recently as the national director of sales. Brenda Quesada was hired as director of R&D & technical services. Quesada maintains over 20 years of diverse food product development and manufacturing experience. She previously served as a R&D/project manager at The Hain Celestial Group, working with Dermeik.

Market Fresh Produce, Nixa, Mo.
Cory Eckels
was named produce intern, responsible for learning all aspects of produce procurement and working under various experienced supervisors to gain the training needed to source high-quality, safe product that meets USDA and customer specifications. In addition to procurement, he will train with other departments such as operations, finance, human resources, sales and marketing and sourcing. Eckels brings over 14 years of experience in the produce industry, having previously served as director of produce operations and loss prevention at Summer Fresh Supermarkets. He worked as a produce specialist at RPCS, and then later took a sales position at Frito Lay.

Misionero Vegetables, Gonzales, Calif.
Pete Donlon, formerly chief executive officer of Earthbound Farm, joined the team as vice president upon the acquisition by Harbinger Group LLC. Joel Rudnick moves from general manager at Green Wave Farms to vice president. Peter Meehan, Newman’s Own Organics president, and Mike Thurlow, chief executive officer of Mountain View Fruit Sales, will serve as board members.

Bai Brands, Hamilton, N.J.
Singer, songwriter, actor and record producer Justin Timberlake joined the team as an investor and the brand’s first chief flavor officer, working closely with the executive team on new flavor innovation, product launches, marketing campaigns and digital content, among other initiatives.

Ready Pac Foods, Inc., Irwindale, Calif.
Galit Feinreich was appointed director of innovation, in charge of the company’s R&D function, which includes product development and the culinary team. Feinreich maintains more than 20 years of experience in innovation and strategy, and spent almost half of her career at Nestlé USA, where she most recently led white space innovation and strategy for the company’s confections and snacks division. Feinreich also developed numerous new products, including a new incremental product segment in seasonal – Easter Egg Hunt Kits. She also worked on two product lines, Crunch Girl Scout Bars and Skinny Cow Divines Chocolate. Before Nestlé, Feinreich worked in the marketing and advertising departments for Interwoven, Inc., Homestore (formerly and Hawk Aviation, Ltd., where she played a key part in the strategic development and creative execution for numerous media and product launches.

The Kraft Heinz Co., Chicago
Feroz Dewan was elected to the board of directors. Dewan is chief executive officer of Arena Holdings Management. Previously, he served in a series of positions with Tiger Global Management from 2003-2015, including most recently as head of public equities. Prior to that, Dewan served as a private equity associate, and a director and member of the audit and compensation committees of the Fortive Corp.


Twin Peaks, Dallas, Texas
Scott Gordon
, co-founder, announced plans to retire to spend more time with family and other ventures. Gordon, who most recently served as president of franchise operations, will continue to work as a partner in Front Burner Restaurants, which created and operates several restaurant brands, including The Ranch at Las Colinas, Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar, Velvet Taco, Ida Claire and Sixty Vines. Before Twin Peaks, Gordon served as president of Tia’s Tex Mex, and previously was chief operating officer of La Madeleine French Bakery & Café. He also spent several years as vice president of operations for the Don Pablo’s chain.


Navistar International Corp., Lisle, Ill.

José Maria Alapont was appointed as a member of the board's Finance Committee, Stephen D'Arcy was appointed as a member of the board's Audit Committee and Dennis Suskind was appointed as a member of the board's Compensation Committee. Alapont retired in 2012 as president and CEO of Federal-Mogul Corp., where he served as chairman of the board of directors from 2005-2007 and as a director on the board until 2013. He is also the former chief executive officer and director of Fiat Iveco, S.p.A.  Prior to joining Fiat Iveco, Alapont held executive, vice president and president positions for more than 30 years at Delphi Corp., Valeo S.A. and Ford Motor Co. During 2011-2012, Alapont was a member of the board of directors of Mentor Graphics Corp, and was a member of the Davos World Economic Forum. He currently serves as a director of Hinduja Automotive Ltd. and Manitowoc Corp. D'Arcy served as a partner of Quantum Group LLC since 2010. Previously, he worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP for 34 years, most recently serving as global automotive leader from 2002-2010. He served on the board of Vanguard Health Systems Inc. from 2011-2013, and currently serves as a director of Penske Corporation Premier, Inc. and the Hudson-Webber Foundation. Suskind joined J. Aron & Co. in 1961 as executive vice president, responsible for the worldwide precious metal trading operations. In 1980, he became a general partner of Goldman Sachs upon its acquisition of J. Aron & Co. until his retirement in 1991. During his tenure in trading metals, Suskind served as vice chairman of NYMEX, vice chairman of COMEX, a member of the board of the Futures Industry Association, a member of the board of International Precious Metals Institute and a member of the boards of the Gold and Silver Institutes. Suskind previously served on the board of NYMEX Holdings and currently serves as a director of the CME Group, Inc. and Bancorp, Inc.

Greenbrier Cos., Inc., Lake Oswego, Ore.
Mark Rittenbaum, executive vice president, commercial and leasing, will assume the position of president of Greenbrier Leasing Corp., upon the resignation of James Sharp at the end of December. Rittenbaum will be responsible for all commercial and leasing activities in North America and Latin America, with particular emphasis on new railcar sales, leasing and enhancement of customer service design. As previously announced, Jim Cowan, president of Greenbrier International, will oversee commercial activities in all railcar markets outside the Americas, while continuing as CEO of GBW Railcar Services, LLC, Greenbrier's railcar repair and refurbishment joint venture with Watco Cos., LLC. Alejandro Centurion continues as president of Greenbrier's global manufacturing operations. Centurion is credited with implementing Greenbrier's global manufacturing and engineering system for new railcar manufacturing. Greenbrier’s leasing and management services businesses will emphasize on lease underwriting, lease syndication and asset management services, led by Greenbrier veterans Larry Stanley, senior vice president, GLC finance, in charge of lease underwriting; Brian Conn, managing director, structured financial products, in charge of lease syndication; and Dan Weiler, senior vice president asset management, leading GMS. Greenbrier's commercial organization includes Greenbrier's field sales operations and commercial administration headed by Brian Comstock, senior vice president, general manager commercial, Americas region and Tom Jackson, vice president, marketing.

Trio Vision, LLC, Smyrna, Ga.
Guy Leslie joined as vice president of sales, tasked with developing the manufacturing of closed-circuit television inspection equipment. Leslie a wealth of experience within the wastewater and water management industry. For instance, he spent the last nine years at RapidView, LLC, where he was instrumental in developing the company’s southern territory, encompassing 11 states and the Caribbean Islands. He has also served as part of the Rehab Zone committee for the past eight years; four of those as co-chair and two as committee chair.

AFFLINK, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Heike Milhench, president of Milhench Supply, and Tom Mekeel, owner of Sac Val Janitorial Supplies, were named to the company’s Advisory Board, effective immediately.

Fristam Pumps USA, Middleton, Wis.
Tom Garrity joined as OEM manager, responsible for managing and coordinating the sales and service activities of Fristam’s OEM national and key accounts in the United States. Garrity maintains 15-plus years of pump, mixer, blender and process industry experience.


Phil Keiser, president and CEO of Culver Franchising System, Inc., Prairie Du Sac, Wis., passed away of natural causes on Oct. 15. Having worked for Culver’s for 20 years, he was the leader of over 20,000 team members at 580 Culver’s locations in 24 states.

Co-founder Craig Culver will assume the role of interim CEO until a successor is named.

Keiser maintained over 35 years of food industry and strategic restaurant management experience. He joined the Culver’s organization in 1996, and has held several positions, including director of operations and vice president of operations, before being named president and COO in 2003. He was named president and CEO in 2015. Prior to joining Culver’s, he held various management positions with Burger Chef and Hardee’s.  

Keiser was also a driving force in the development and expansion of the Culver’s organization. Since 1996, the system has grown from 44 restaurants to its current size. Additionally, the restaurant support team has grown from 14 to over 100 team members.



Baking industry icon and urban development legend John Paterakis passed peacefully Oct. 16, surrounded by family and loved ones.

Paterakis served as chairman of American Bakers Association (ABA), the Washington, D.C.-based co-producer of the IBIE tradeshows. Paterakis has been an ABA board member for several decades, and twice as chairman of the International Baking Industry Exposition Committee. He was also a key supporter of the creation of the Grain Foods Foundation.

“Mr. Paterakis was a towering figure in the baking industry, and it is with good reason he was one of the first inducted into the Baking Hall of Fame,” says Robb MacKie, president and CEO of ABA. “His quiet spirit and tenacious drive built the largest family bakery in the country. His life is the quintessential American immigrant success story that is the heart of the baking industry. His leadership of ABA and the industry will be sorely missed.”


William Baker, who was instrumental in the growth and development of PennRose Farms, Boca Raton, Fla., passed away in an untimely death Aug. 29.

Baker began working at PennRose Farms early 2016, first as a sourcing and sales coordinator, and later as the administrative controller. He also played key roles in the company’s grower development programs.

Prior to joining PennRose Farms, he worked as a production coordinator and category manager for Parker Farms, as a category manager for CH Robinson and as a senior account coordinator for Rosemont Farms.

Baker is survived by his parents, Donald and Pat Baker, sister Nancy and brother Ross Baker, and his two children, Tomas and Isabela. A family service was held in his honor in September, and a memorial service is scheduled for Oct. 29 at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Auburn, Ala. In lieu of flowers, the family set up an education fund to benefit his two young children: